Something that I haven’t been quite honest about, reader, is that the past year or so has been some sort of limbo for me. I know I’ve mentioned it, but I thought I’d address some things that have had a lot of impact on my writing, my cooking, and my outlook on life in general.
So much of my life is weighted upon my work – even for those of use who have workaholic tendencies (guilty as charged), what you do is your means to how you live your life: it determines what you eat, how you sleep, where you live, and how you spend the majority of your time awake as a person. What you ultimately do for work says everything about who you are – everything, and no less.
When I first started working, my parents advised me to work for the weekends, and to savor time spent away from the office, while my peers say not to work too much or too hard. Both options, to me, are a waste of time that you will never get back – as a single twenty-five year old, anyway. If I had a family to support, my story might have been different.
Note to self: if you are not satisfied where you are, you should never be satisfied until there is a (non-fluorescent) light at the end of the tunnel, and you should never, never - ever - settle for anything less.
Maybe this is a generational thing. I feel like I’m surrounded by incongruencies: people saying that you can’t do anything without a graduate degree, others saying that you don’t need any sort of degree to be successful. Some people are unhappy at their jobs, but stay for the benefits, and/or the ability to have their cake and eat it too. Or they just complain, and stay where they are solely because they’re not working to change it. Or, they put in the work to find satisfaction. Those who pursue satisfaction – however long or winding the road may be – well, I hope with all my heart that they find it.
After twelve long months, I think I have a good idea of what will happen to me next.
I’m wrapping up my position at CIPE, where I was able to learn so much about what I want to do. Next week, my family arrives, and I’ll be able to share a tiny slice of what my life has been like since I found my home here in Washington – and my Washington friends will finally meet my family, and probably do a long-awaited beer bat with my father. I’m hoping for another Fourth-of-July Eight Clap.
After that, this American girl is going to Mexico for a week.
And after that, I’m taking the next step – so thank you, all of you who have dealt with my bitching and moaning, my neglect, and my stress. Your unconditional support means the world to me, and I promise, I can pay you with food, friends, and long, chatty runs along the Potomac river.
Sweet, delectable food. Happy fourth of July, America.
1.5 cups AP flour, plus whatever you need to make the dough workable
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
Whipped Cream Filling
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
You’ll need two rectangular tart pans to make the American flag shape – the dough recipe gives you just enough to fill both.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a food processor, combine 1.5 cups flour, 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse grind until evenly mixed. Then, add the cubes of butter and pulse grind, slowly adding in the egg. Pulse grind (about ten seconds each) until it won’t mix any more. At this point, the dough was too sticky for me to work with, so I gradually added flour – about another half cup – until it was more of a pie-dough consistency.
Deb recommends chilling the dough, but I’m horribly impatient these days, and frankly, since it wasn’t required, I didn’t do it. I rolled the dough out to about 1/4 of an inch in width, and transferred to a buttered tart pan. I like giving tarts a nice, thick crust – the dainty crusts always fall apart on me. I’ve given up on them.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the crust is golden to your liking. Then, remove it from the oven, and let cool.
While that’s resting, beat your whipping cream in a stand mixer for a couple of minutes, until it looks like, well, whipped cream. Look for stiff peaks. As it begins to form, gradually add the sugar and vanilla extract. Set aside in the refrigerator until your tart is ready to serve.
To prepare, use a spatula to fill the tart with whipped cream. If you want it to be extra decadent, line the tart with a layer of fresh strawberry jam before filling with the whipped cream (that was my original intent, but I got distracted when I made this, and then forgot to do so). Arrange your berries on top of the whipped cream to look like a star-spangled banner, put on an American flag bikini, and share your tart with some of your best friends, American or not.